Acquisition-Driven Growth Is Helping These Companies

PVH, G-III, and VF Corp are making some solid acquisitions, which makes them interesting investment options.

Jan 21, 2014 at 4:52PM

Mergers and acquisitions -- buying growth externally -- is one of the traits of a management team with an eye for aggressive expansion. Acquisitions and divestitures go hand in hand where companies sell a part or all of their non-core businesses. For example, PVH (NYSE:PVH) sold off its Bass operations to G-III Apparel Group (NASDAQ:GIII) in November. Let's take a look at these two companies along with another company -- VF Corp (NYSE:VFC) -- which has also taken the acquisition route for growth.

PVH's march forward
After having beaten estimates and its own guidance on revenue and earnings for the third quarter, PVH has hit a 52-week high three times within the short span of less than two weeks. The company posted better-than-expected results with revenue increasing by a whopping 37.5% to approximately $2.3 billion from $1.6 billion in the prior-year quarter. This growth was fueled by robust sales across all segments of the company, including The Warnaco Group acquisition.

The Warnaco acquisition also fueled growth in the Calvin Klein North America retail business, which saw more than twofold growth to $799.7 million from $319.6 million in the year-ago quarter. In addition, the Tommy Hilfiger business also registered 10% revenue growth over the prior-year quarter. The strategy behind selling the Bass operations to G-III Apparel was to focus on higher-margin segments like Calvin Klein and other businesses, and the solid growth signifies that the initiative is paying off.

In order to expand on the high-margin Calvin Klein segment, in October PVH formed a joint venture with Gazal -- a leading apparel supplier and retailer in Australasia -- to expand PVH's Calvin Klein brand across Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific nations and islands.

Going ahead with its strategy of focusing on higher-margin businesses, PVH inked a deal with Axis Golf to market and distribute IZOD brand products across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and other South Pacific islands. The deal will continue to 2018. Going forward, this should also drive long-term growth of the top and bottom lines.

PVH posted adjusted earnings of $2.30 per share and beat its own guidance of $2.25. Earnings growth was fueled by strong growth in the top line from the Warnaco acquisition. However, earnings declined by 3.4% from the year-ago quarter. This was due to the rise in input and operating costs, a higher effective tax rate, and a 12% rise in the number of outstanding shares. However, due to tepid holiday season sales, PVH revised its revenue guidance downward for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2013.

G-III and VF's moves
G-III Apparel acquired G.H. Bass from PVH, as it wasn't fitting in the strategic decision to focus only on high-margin businesses. G-III Apparel also has long-term relations with PVH as a licensee of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger in North America as well as Guess, Nine West, and Ivana Trump.

The acquisition gels well with the company's strategy of positioning itself as a head-to-toe apparel maker for men and women. G-III reported a very strong third quarter with a 23% jump in revenue and 20% growth in earnings per share with robust performance across all brands and segments. Management is confident that this acquisition will be a growth driver going forward.

This confidence is reflected in an upward revision of guidance for fiscal 2014. G-III now expects adjusted earnings in the range of $3.47 to $3.57 per diluted share, compared to a previous guidance of a range of $3.30 to $3.40.

VF Corp acquired the Timberland brand two years ago in a $2 billion deal to create a $10 billion apparel & footwear behemoth focused on Outdoor & Action Sports. Timberland is VF Corp's largest brand in Europe in terms of sales. It also has strong presence in emerging economies like China and Turkey.

VF registered growth in 14 of the 15 largest brands on a global basis, and the outdoor- and action-sports segment was 60% of revenue in the third quarter, with Timberland revenue up by just 2%. The Timberland brand aspires to be the largest, most sustainable casual outdoor- lifestyle brand in Asia, aiming for revenue growth of $230 million in Asia Pacific at a growth rate of 13%.

Bottom line
Acquisitions have played an important role in the growth of all three companies. They have been expanding across geographies and are witnessing good growth in their financial metrics. Acquisitions have helped them grow their customer base extensively and to bring new brands into the portfolio. As more customers get affluent around the world, these companies should continue doing well in the future as well and acquisitions will play a big part in this.

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Ayush Singh has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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